The great houses of London represent one of the marvels of English architecture and yet they are almost entirely unknown. They are for the most part disguised behind sober facades but their riches within are astonishing. There are many architectural wonders, among them Robert Adam's 20 St James’s Square and William Burges’s Tower House. Several — including Bridgewater House with its Raphaels and Titians — have held great art collections. These are houses that hold extraordinary stories: half the Cabinet resigned after breakfast at Stratford House; and on 4 August 1914, at 9 Carlton House Terrace, then the German Embassy, young duty clerk Harold Nicholson deftly substituted one declaration of war for another.
This book opens the door to more than forty houses, ranging from medieval Lambeth Palace, and the 'shaky, lightly built' terraced house that is 10 Downing Street; through the splendid eighteenth-century aristocratic houses palaces of the West End and the quirky Arts and Crafts houses of Holland Park and Kensington; to cool modernist houses in Hampstead and Chelsea and the exuberant postmodern interiors of the last thirty years. It tells stories of owners and occupants, artists and architects, public buildings and private homes, restoration, adaptation and change.